Phobophobes' debut arrives with a bang; it's a statement of intent from one of South London's most exciting bands.
Having been through much in a short amount of time, Phobophobes are just about all set for the release of their much-anticipated debut. ‘Miniature World’ is a record born from adversity; 2016 saw the untimely death of the group's guitarist, George Russell. The band went on a temporary hiatus, resulting in bassist Elliot Nash finding it too difficult to return. Fast forward to today; they now have three new players, going from a five-piece to a six-piece, and are about to release an album that still very much reflects each of their former bandmates.
Guitarist Jamie Taylor and keyboardist Chris OC both studied fine art at University. "We obviously know our music, but we've approached the album in a much more artistic way," Jamie explains all the way from the South of France, where he's helping his family set up an art gallery in a derelict building. "I think some parts come a bit unexpected, with certain progressions especially. Maybe when you're classically trained you know where to go next, whereas we don't, so we make it up and we chip away at it until it sounds alright. It's not as immediate, and it's a bit more difficult, but we get there in the end.
"It's kind of like we're making up our own language," he laughs. "There's quite a strong narrative throughout that I really want people to discover through listening. We've put a lot of thought into it, especially with Side A and Side B."
With a fondness for listening to albums on vinyl, Phobophobes were keen to create a nuanced record that wasn't just front-to-back standalone bangers. "It's very important for the album to flow as well as the song structure; that's something that's really lost nowadays when you go onto Spotify, and it's all scrambled. It's really irritating," says Jamie. Several songs didn't make the cut.
"There was one that we were writing just before George died. He'd written this beautiful guitar line over the chord progression that I'd put together. I just had it on a phone recording and Margo [Broom], the producer we were working with at the time, played around with it so it was all in time and took away some of the unwanted frequencies and bum notes, so that we could have George's guitar line."
It's not on the album, but the track will surface eventually, Jamie says, perhaps as a single or a b-side. George is actually playing guitar on every track on the album. "It was important that he was playing. Some bits were just for demo purposes, so we had to spruce them up a bit, but some were done really well, and George put a lot of work into them."
It's been a whirlwind of a time for Phobophobes, but they've made it out the other side. "It was a traumatic thing, losing a friend," reflects Jamie. "It was quite difficult to come back together. We were such a strong unit, and then we had these new members... Luckily, the people playing with us were really into it, they liked the band, and they weren't just playing for the sake of it."
Looking beyond the album release, the new group plan to get their heads down to "become more of a writing band - we already had an album recorded when the new members joined. They need more; they need to feel like they're part of something. When they hear us on the radio at the moment, sometimes it's not even them playing, which is a bit weird."
Phobophobes have created something extraordinary with ‘Miniature World'; this band are heading somewhere very special indeed.
Phobophobes’ debut album ‘Miniature World’ is out now. Taken from the February issue of Dork, out now.